Q&A with the Daniel Island Club’s Chef Tyler

January 25, 2012

Tyler Dudley, Executive Chef at the Daniel Island Club

The below excerpt from “High Standards in the Lowcountry” was originally published in Club & Resort Business, December 2011. Posted here with permission from Harbor Communications LLC. Copyright 2011. Click here to read the complete article.

Tyler Dudley, a newly minted Certified Executive Chef, has held the top chef position at Daniel Island for the past ten years. During that time, he and his team of 25, which includes a Chef de Cuisine, Banquet Chef, Sous Chef and Executive Pastry Chef, have created an exciting mix of fine-dining and casual cuisine that ranks the club with the best downtown restaurants in a great food town like Charleston, which appears regularly on Top Ten lists of the nation’s best dining destinations. The Daniel Island Club has even earned the right to participate in the Charleston Wine and Food festival, which is normally limited to public operations.

Chef Dudley was kind enough to take time to share with us how he continually raises the bar in an exceptional club F&B operation.

Q: Chef, for those who are not familiar with Lowcountry cuisine, can you explain all that it encompasses as far as cooking style, geography and history?  Also, how have you integrated it into your menus at Daniel Island?

Chef Tyler’s Shrimp & Grits

A: Lowcountry cuisine is the cooking traditionally associated with the coastal area of South Carolina that stretches from Pawley’s Island to the Savannah River in Georgia. This region has a rich diversity in seafood from the coast, and influences from Caribbean and African cuisine.

Lowcountry cooking has a strong correlation with New Orleans and Cajun cuisine as well. We try to utilize as many local ingredients as possible in our menus, and like to put a modern spin on Lowcountry favorites, such as with our versions of Shrimp and Grits (see recipe at right) or Fried Green Tomatoes.

The Main Dining Room at the Daniel Island Club

Q: A huge priority for you has been to get your culinary team out into the community, by participating in events such as the Charleston Wine and Food Festival or fundraisers like “Darkness to Light,” which raises money for the prevention of child abuse. Explain to us the positive impact this has on your relationship with your staff when these become a regular practice.

A: It’s easy sometimes to be “locked in” and focused on the day-to-day operations of a very busy private club, which can lead to forgetting what’s going on in your local culinary community. Our culinary team strives to get out there, not only to support great organizations like Darkness to Light, but also to be involved with events like the Charleston Wine and Food Festival. This not only brings great exposure to the club, it gets our culinary team excited about what we are doing here. And it gives our chefs great networking abilities with the outstanding culinary talent that we have here in Charleston.

Q: Chef, I’m surprised at the number of club chefs who now have extensive gardens on site. Having taken on a huge project with your 100-by-40-yard garden, what tips can you offer for getting beyond just having herb beds outside our kitchen doors?

A: We started about three years ago with a small herb garden, and that soon led to discussions of how to expand that resource. There has been a huge movement, not only in Charleston but also the entire country, around the farm-to-table concept—and when our President of the Daniel Island Company came to us with interest of expanding to a 100% organic garden on the property, it kind of took off from there. Some tips I can give would be to start small, do some research and not only get your culinary team involved but other departments such as course and grounds maintenance, which does the tilling and other upkeep that requires heavy equipment for us.

To read the rest of the article in Club & Resort Business, click here.